CANADA: Harvest threatened by ongoing winter

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Ontario's wine industry is bracing for a significant drop in harvest volumes this year after the coldest winter in nine years threatened to destroy large parts of the crop.

According to reports in the country's press, Merlot is most seriously affected. Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc Pinot Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon are also under threat.

In an interview, Linda Franklin, executive director of the Wine Council of Ontario, said: "It's really clear there has been severe damage in some places, based on the preliminary bud survey in the vineyards. When you get down to minus 22 or minus 23C you have serious concerns. With $400 million in Ontario wine sold a year, the losses could be substantial."

She said that the high quality VQA (Vintner's Quality Alliance) wines, were particularly vulnerable. Last year they accounted for 22% of the market, up from 18% a year before, but this could now fall.

Canadian reports said the winter had already seen 26 days of minus15C or colder.

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